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October 2, 2014

Posts in "Tea Party"

October 1, 2014

Losing Cummings Set Off Chain Reaction for Secret Service Director

cummings 03 042704 445x310 Losing Cummings Set Off Chain Reaction for Secret Service Director

When Cummings lost confidence in Secret Service Director Julia Pierson, others followed. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

As CNN’s Wolf Blitzer noted Wednesday afternoon, when a White House appointee loses the backing of Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Elijah E. Cummings, you know you’re in trouble.

That’s where embattled Secret Service Director Julia Pierson, appointed to the job less than two years ago by President Barack Obama, found herself Thursday as a growing chorus of lawmakers — including Democrats Cummings and Pelosi — demanded answers and accountability for an embarrassing series of security lapses involving the agency.

Cummings, the ranking member on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, was the first, most senior Democrat to suggest that maybe it was time for new leadership at the Secret Service.

Wednesday morning, less than 24 hours after Pierson’s problematic testimony at a rare, mid-recess hearing on Capitol Hill, Cummings told MSNBC that his “confidence and trust” in Pierson “had eroded,” and that he did “not feel comfortable with her” in charge of the agency.

Those comments seemed to have set off a chain reaction among lawmakers in both parties struggling with their positions on whether Pierson should stay or go.

Soon after, Pelosi announced at a press conference that if Cummings was bothered by Pierson’s record at the Secret Service, then so was she.

I support his suggestion,” Pelosi told reporters. “I am subscribing to his superior judgment and knowledge on the subject.”

On the other side of the aisle, South Carolina Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy cited Cummings, too.

“When Elijah Cummings says that he has lost confidence in someone, the White House better pay attention,” Gowdy told Fox News.

“He’s hardly a tea party Republican,” said Gowdy, the chairman to Cummings’ ranking member on the special Benghazi investigative committee. “He does not criticize the administration unless it’s warranted. And, he has lost confidence in Director Pierson’s leadership.”

And Cummings’ comments were an indication of how little support Pierson could expect from Democrats on Capitol Hill. This was, after all, a lawmaker who, in February, had been described by a spokesman for Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa as an “errand runner for the Obama White House.”

In an interview with CQ Roll Call Wednesday evening, Cummings said he hadn’t heard about Gowdy’s comments from earlier in the day, but that he was gratified by them.

“I think it is — I hope, I hope — it’s about integrity,” he said. “But also always putting the country first.”

“Put country before party,” he added, giving a shout-out to the late Republican Rep. Jack Kemp, who used the phrase often.

 

Related:

Secret Service Director Julia Pierson Resigns

Boehner Slams ‘Incompetence’ at Secret Service, Wants Review

Pelosi Calls for Review of Secret Service Security Lapses

Secret Service Takes Beating in Rare Recess Hearing

Secret Service Director Testimony Omits Elevator Incident With Obama

Omar Gonzalez Charged in White House Breach

Roll Call Election Map: Race Ratings for Every Seat

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September 16, 2014

Bipartisan Bloc Coalesces Behind CR, Syrian Rebels Amendment

hoyer 335 073014 1 445x296 Bipartisan Bloc Coalesces Behind CR, Syrian Rebels Amendment

Despite reservations, Democrats are lining up behind the House GOP’s proposed continuing resolution and an underlying amendment on Syria, Hoyer said. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Despite lingering reservations on both sides of the aisle, a coalition of Republicans and Democrats is coming together behind proposals to arm Syrian rebels and fund the government beyond Sept. 30.

Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer confirmed Tuesday that, despite some provisions his colleagues don’t like — namely a reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank through only June 30, 2015 — Hoyer and a significant bloc of Democrats would not withhold their support on the continuing resolution. “You don’t get perfect,” Hoyer told reporters at his weekly pen-and-pad briefing.

The Maryland Democrat also said Democrats would support an amendment proposal from Armed Services Chairman Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Calif., that would give the Obama administration the authority it requested to arm and train Syrian rebels in order to combat Islamic terrorists.

With the support from Democrats, passage of the CR and adoption of the Syria amendment look increasingly assured. There are plenty of remaining concerns regarding the trustworthiness of the Syrian rebels. But with Republican and Democratic leadership supporting the measure — not to mention the White House, which has been calling members to drum up support for the proposal — passage of the CR does not appear to be in doubt. Full story

August 27, 2014

Guilty Plea: Iowa State Senator Paid for Ron Paul Switch

bachmann002 081111 330x220 Guilty Plea: Iowa State Senator Paid for Ron Paul Switch

Bachmann was Iowa’s presidential front-runner in summer 2011. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A former Iowa state senator pleaded guilty to concealing payments he received from former Rep. Ron Paul’s presidential campaign to switch his support from Rep. Michele Bachmann.

Kent Sorenson, 42, of Milo, Iowa, entered the guilty plea for one count of causing a federal campaign committee to falsely report its expenditures and one count of obstruction of justice.

According to a Department of Justice release, Sorenson admitted he had supported one campaign for the 2012 presidential election, but from October to December 2011, “he met and secretly negotiated with a second political campaign to switch his support to that second campaign in exchange for concealed payments that amounted to $73,000.”

Full story

August 14, 2014

Cantor Voting Rights Act Legacy is Failure to Deliver, Democrats Say

gop003 030514 445x296 Cantor Voting Rights Act Legacy is Failure to Deliver, Democrats Say

Democrats wonder if Cantor was all talk on the Voting Rights Act. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Passing a new Voting Rights Act in the GOP-dominated House was never going to be easy, supporters acknowledge. But with a powerful Republican such as Eric Cantor as an ally, hope flickered for nearly a year.

Then came June 10 and the shocking primary defeat that tanked Cantor’s congressional career — taking with it, in all likelihood, any prospect for an update of the landmark 1965 civil rights legislation that had been weakened by a 2013 Supreme Court ruling.

Even with Cantor as majority leader, said a House aide close to the VRA negotiations, “I would have speculated that it was certainly a very steep climb. That it was unlikely, but there was still hope.”

But with the Virginia Republican out of the mix, the aide said, “it doesn’t appear we’re going to see it this Congress.”

It’s a disappointing turn that has some Democrats wondering if Cantor ever deserved the benefit of a doubt on minority voting rights. Full story

August 4, 2014

Marlin Stutzman’s Long Game

stutzman 313 072814 445x296 Marlin Stutzmans Long Game

Stutzman first arrived in 2010, and has bigger-picture goals that are years in the making. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Marlin Stutzman knows how to plant seeds.

When the Indiana Republican mounted his campaign for majority whip, it was such a long shot he didn’t expect to win — at least not this time.

No one else really expected Stutzman to prevail in the three-way leadership contest, either. But he’s looking years down the road, and is glad he took the gamble.

“Some people are afraid to lose. … Sometimes you have to lose in order to build something for the future,” Stutzman told CQ Roll Call during an hourlong interview in his 7th floor Longworth office.

It’s a lesson he knows well, as a member who entered the House in November 2010 after losing the Indiana Republican Senate primary to Dan Coats in May of that year.

Stutzman, who calls himself “an overachieving farmer,” didn’t see much downside to running and losing. This race was more about getting his name out there to let his colleagues know he’s interested in leadership.

His goal was to build relationships within the GOP conference. Stutzman said a lesson he learned from his scramble into leadership elections was that the conference is not as divided as many think, that the differences are more over strategy than policy.

So what does Stutzman want? The fourth-generation soybean, green bean and seed corn farmer doesn’t exactly seem to know.

Full story

July 30, 2014

Facing Immigration Revolt, Republicans Plan Vote to Ban ‘Administrative Amnesty’ (Updated)

judiciary007 052114 445x291 Facing Immigration Revolt, Republicans Plan Vote to Ban Administrative Amnesty (Updated)

Cruz, who has proposed legislation prohibiting Obama from expanding deportation relief for illegal immigrants, met with House conservatives late Wednesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 11:07 p.m. | In a bid to shore up votes for their border supplemental, Republican leaders plan to give conservatives a vote Thursday prohibiting President Barack Obama from granting deportation relief to more illegal immigrants.

One vote will be on the $659 million appropriations bill aimed at curbing the flow of child migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border, which includes policy riders that have alienated nearly all Democrats.

On the condition of that bill passing, members would then be allowed to a vote on standalone language prohibiting the expansion of Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program granting deportation relief and work permits to children brought here illegally by their parents. Republicans charge that DACA has acted as a magnet for unaccompanied children to come to the United States, although recent immigrants are not eligible.

Obama has promised to do all he can on his own on immigration by the end of the summer — and recent news reports that he may expand DACA’s deportation relief to as many as 5 million additional illegal immigrants have roiled the GOP.

Language targeting DACA would be similar to legislation pushed in the Senate by Texas Republican Ted Cruz, who, as negotiations were ongoing, was hosting conservative House members in his Capitol Hill office to discuss strategy on the matter. Cruz’s bill has a companion in the House, sponsored by Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn. The legislation would prohibit the administration from granting deportation and other relief to any more illegal immigrants. It does not target people who have already enrolled in DACA.

The Rules Committee finalized the plan late Wednesday on a party line vote.

Ranking member Louise M. Slaughter, D-N.Y., offered an amendment to strike the language that would bar Obama from continuing or expanding DACA. It was defeated along party lines, 3-8.

Rules Democrat Jim McGovern of Massachusetts took issue with the timing of the proposal’s introduction, which coincided with Cruz’s dinner.

“Mr. Cruz has considerably more sway than some of the leaders in the House,” he quipped.

Rules Chairman Pete Sessions, R-Texas, took issue with the criticism, saying there has been “a continuing dialogue within our conference about what would and would not be in [the bill], and yesterday we became aware of what was in, and that created a set of circumstances where there were certain discussions.”

The plan would force conservatives — many of whom have a history of voting for amendments and then voting against the underlying bill — to back the supplemental first if they want a chance to constrain what some conservatives, like Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Alabama, have blasted as “administrative amnesty.”

The plan also came after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., roiled conservatives by suggesting the House’s bill could be used to conference a comprehensive immigration bill. That prompted Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, to blast Reid and vow no “immigration reform” of any kind would be added to the bill.

It’s not clear what will happen if the House border makes it to the Senate. Although the rule doesn’t combine the border bill with the DACA language — as leadership at one point considered — the White House earlier Wednesday threatened a veto of the border bill on its own.

Matt Fuller contributed to this report.

Related:

$659 Million Border Bill Planned by GOP

Pelosi: Don’t Tack Expedited Deportations to Border Bill (Video)

HSS: Ignoring Border Crisis is Not an Option for Congress (Video)

The Border Supplemental and ‘the Height of Irresponsibility’

Boehner Puts Onus on Democrats for Tenuous State of Border Bill

The Other Side of the Border: CQ Roll Call’s Special Report from Guatemala

President’s Party Asks Why He’s Avoiding the Border

Obama ‘Happy to Consider’ Sending National Guard to Border to get Votes on Supplemental

A Tale of Two Congressional Visits to the Southwest Border

Obama Asking Congress for $4.3 Billion for Border Crisis, Wildfires

Alone, Illegal and Underage: The Child Migrant Crisis

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July 28, 2014

Conservatives: Obama Impeachment Effort ‘Futile’

 

2impeach072814 445x301 Conservatives: Obama Impeachment Effort Futile

Protestors call for Obama’s impeachment while demonstrating outside of the White House in October. (Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images File Photo)

There’s no shortage of House conservatives who think President Barack Obama has broken the law — or is simply not enforcing it. But none of these brash right-wingers slamming the president for executive overreach are stepping up to offer articles of impeachment. Why?

“Because it is unwise,” said Rep. Mo Brooks. The Alabama Republican was like many others CQ Roll Call attempted to pin down, and wouldn’t comment on whether he thinks the president deserves to be impeached. “It does not make any difference what I think,” Brooks said, identifying the major procedural hurdle facing any such effort — there is “no chance” the Senate would impeach the president.

Calling it a “moot point,” Brooks pulled out the Serenity Prayer from his wallet and read: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.”

Similar sentiments came from even the most ardent anti-Obama flamethrowers, with Steve Stockman of Texas calling it a “futile endeavor.”

“Not going anywhere with the Senate,” said Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas. “It sucks all the air out of the room.”

Even Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, a few months ahead of her retirement, didn’t want to talk about impeachment, literally making a shooing motion with her hands when CQ Roll Call raised the question.

Full story

July 15, 2014

Why House Conservatives Don’t Support Obama Impeachment

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One of Labrador’s arguments against an Obama impeachment push: “President Joe Biden.” (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

A curious line of reasoning emerged Tuesday as to why conservatives in Congress aren’t chomping at the bit to impeach a president that they believe has broken the law: There isn’t enough time.

At a monthly panel discussion with conservative lawmakers, members were asked if they would support impeaching President Barack Obama for selective enforcement of some laws and dramatic reinterpretations of others.

While a number of the lawmakers seemed to think impeachment was warranted, no one was offering to write up the proceedings.

“The president deserves to be impeached,” said Rep. Randy Weber, R-Texas. “Plain and simple.”

But, as Weber pointed out, it isn’t so simple.

“We’ve got so much on our plate that it’s not practical,” he said, noting that such an endeavor wouldn’t pass the Senate even though “he definitely deserves it.” Full story

July 10, 2014

Text of Stockman Resolution Calling for House to Arrest Lois Lerner

irs hearing020 052213 445x296 Text of Stockman Resolution Calling for House to Arrest Lois Lerner

Lois Lerner, director of exempt organizations for the IRS. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Texas Republican Steve Stockman filed a resolution Thursday directing the House sergeant-at-arms to arrest former IRS official Lois Lerner on charges of contempt of Congress.

“Asking the Justice Department to prosecute Lois Lerner for admittedly illegal activity is a joke,” Stockman said in a statement. “The Obama administration will not prosecute the Obama administration. How much longer will the House allow itself to be mocked? It is up to this House to uphold the rule of law and hold accountable those who illegally targeted American citizens for simply having different ideas than the President.”

Under the resolution Lerner would be held in the D.C. jail and would have full legal rights and access to an attorney. CQ Roll Call has reported on the House’s rarely-used power, confirmed by the Supreme Court, to arrest and hold those found in contempt of Congress.

The full text of Stockman’s proposal, H.Res. 664 is below. Full story

Diaz-Balart’s Immigration Overhaul Effort Is Dead for Now

diaz balart 197 062414 330x223 Diaz Balarts Immigration Overhaul Effort Is Dead for Now

Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., will no longer seek to advance his draft immigration bill (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

After a year and a half of stops and starts, unbridled optimism and hints of inevitable defeat, Florida Republican Mario Diaz-Balart has declared his efforts to overhaul the nation’s immigration system officially dead for the 113th Congress.

“Despite our best efforts, today I was informed by the Republican leadership that they have no intention to bring this bill to the floor this year,” the congressman told reporters at a hastily convened press conference in the Cannon House Office Building on Thursday afternoon. “It is disappointing and highly unfortunate.”

Later, Diaz-Balart repeated, “I don’t think I can hide my disappointment.” Full story

June 24, 2014

‘Cruz Caucus’ Talks Leadership Elections in Both Chambers

judiciary007 052114 445x291 Cruz Caucus Talks Leadership Elections in Both Chambers

Cruz met again Tuesday with House conservatives. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Ted Cruz held another closed-door meeting with House conservatives Tuesday night, sitting down with insurgents over pizza in his office for a free-flowing discussion about immigration, leadership elections, the IRS and recent changes at the Republican Study Committee.

Over the course of about an hour and a half, 14 of the most conservative members of the House piled into Cruz’s Dirksen office for what was described in an email as an off-the-record gathering of “discussion and fellowship.”

The attendees were, in the order in which they arrived: Doug Lamborn of Colorado, Trent Franks of Arizona, Mo Brooks of Alabama, John Fleming of Louisiana, Thomas Massie of Kentucky, Paul Gosar of Arizona, Louie Gohmert of Texas, Matt Salmon of Arizona, Steve Stockman of Texas, Paul Broun of Georgia, Tim Huelskamp of Kansas, Ted Yoho of Florida, Steve Pearce of New Mexico and Michele Bachmann of Minnesota. (Lamborn was facing a primary back home.)

This isn’t the first time Cruz has met quietly with House conservatives. He met in the basement of Tortilla Coast with 15 to 20 House Republicans during the government shutdown in October. He also met with a similar group of House Republicans in his office in April.

The topics of conversation at these meetings have been the subject of vivid speculation.

But Tuesday night, Cruz looked to downplay the whole affair as he entered the meeting at 7:09 p.m.

“You guys have made a mountain out of a molehill,” the Texas Republican told CQ Roll Call. He noted that he had met with conservatives “periodically,” and he implied such gatherings aren’t a big deal. Full story

June 20, 2014

Labrador Says Boehner Now Less Likely to Retire in Fall

labrador002 020414 445x293 Labrador Says Boehner Now Less Likely to Retire in Fall

Labrador says Boehner is the big winner this week. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Updated: 6:35 p.m. | While many lawmakers have said they don’t think Speaker John A. Boehner will stay for another term, the surprise defeat of Majority Leader Eric Cantor and the recent leadership elections now has at least one conservative lawmaker thinking Boehner’s position has been strengthened.

Raúl R. Labrador has repeatedly predicted that Boehner would step down as speaker at the end of this term. In fact, the Idaho Republican did it as recently as last Tuesday, on the morning of the day that Cantor lost his primary to Dave Brat.

But after waging his own unsuccessful bid for majority leader, and after Kevin McCarthy was elected to the position, Labrador thinks Boehner is now better positioned to stick around. Full story

Kevin McCarthy to Religious Conservatives: ‘Proud to Be a Christian’

mccarthy 080 061114 445x292 Kevin McCarthy to Religious Conservatives: Proud to Be a Christian

McCarthy makes his way to the House floor through the media pack, who were waiting for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor on June 11. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

One day after winning the House Majority Leader election, Rep. Kevin McCarthy told a Washington gathering of religious conservatives that he’s “proud to be a Christian.”

In a brief afternoon appearance at Ralph Reed’s Faith & Freedom Coalition Conference, an upbeat McCarthy, R-Calif., told attendees he thanks “my Lord and Savior for his grace, his strength and for never leaving me.”

McCarthy, who is a Baptist, was elected to GOP majority leader Thursday in his fourth term in the House, the fastest ever ascent to the pivotal leadership post.

He steps up from the No. 3 post in the House, majority whip, to replace the outgoing No. 2, Rep. Eric Cantor, who lost his Virginia Republican primary on June 10 to Dave Brat, a college economics professor who was backed by tea party groups.

McCarthy’s election has been met with skepticism by some social conservatives who consider the Bakersfield native an “establishment” Republican.

He told attendees he will bring the party together: “We will unite.”

June 19, 2014

Pelosi Downplays Missing IRS Emails While Boehner Calls for Answers (Video)

pelosi 156 061914 445x325 Pelosi Downplays Missing IRS Emails While Boehner Calls for Answers (Video)

Pelosi, D-Calif., says revelations that the IRS lost emails sought by Congress likely means the tax agency needs better computer equipment. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi doesn’t appear to think that there was foul play in the Internal Revenue Service’s misplacement of key emails from Lois Lerner, the ex-agency official at the center of the ongoing IRS scandal.

At her weekly press conference Thursday morning, the California Democrat said her takeaway from reports that Lerner’s emails have been lost forever was simply that the IRS needs to upgrade its technology infrastructure.

Full story

June 17, 2014

Would-Be Whips Woo Conservatives, Reassure Moderates

roskam 074 100813 445x305 Would Be Whips Woo Conservatives, Reassure Moderates

Majority whip race contender Roskam says he can tame the House Republican Conference. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Candidates for House majority whip are pushing their cases hard in the last hours of the race, each promising to heal a party scarred by infighting and at the same time, wrangle the conference into a united voting bloc.

In the run-up to Thursday’s pivotal vote, Rep. Peter Roskam, the chief deputy whip, is touting himself as the most experienced candidate — and the only one who will be a disciplinarian toward rambunctious members who vote out of step with leadership.

The Illinois Republican said he would punish members who vote against leaders’ priorities, according to a member familiar with his pitch. Although that is much more difficult in a post-earmark world, Roskam laid out a slate of ideas, including refusing to take up unruly members’ bills, withholding plum committee assignments and even banishing rebels from the weekly conference breakfast, denying them a free meal if they do not play with the rest of the team. Full story

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